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SERAP Asks Lawan, Gbajabiamila To Publish Reports On Corruption Probes, Seeks Special Counsel Bill

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Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent Freedom of Information (FoI) requests to the Senate President, Dr Ahmad Lawan; and Speaker of House of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, urging them to use their “good offices and leadership positions to urgently publish all reports of completed public hearings and corruption probes by the National Assembly since the return of democracy in 1999.”

The organization also urged them to “disclose the number and details of public hearings and corruption probes by the National Assembly that have resulted in any indictment of suspects, and to name such suspects. The reports should be sent to appropriate anti-corruption agencies to consider if there is sufficient admissible evidence to pursue prosecution.”

In the FoI requests dated 25 July, 2020 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said: “Publishing the reports of hearings and probes would bolster public trust and confidence in the oversight functions, and dispel the perception that many of these hearings and probes are politically motivated and serve personal interest, rather than the general public interests.”

READ ALSO: COVID-19: Support Nigeria’s Economic Recovery, Buhari Tells Citizens In Diaspora

SERAP said: “The most effective way to deter corruption is to make the cost of engaging in these types of acts higher than the rewards. This end can only be accomplished by making public the reports and pursuing public accountability for corrupt acts. Doing so would also give Nigerians greater confidence that their lawmakers can use their constitutional oversight functions to address corruption in Nigeria.”

The FoI requests, read in part: “We urge you to sponsor a resolution to stop lawmakers from directly getting involved in the execution of projects by ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to ensure the proper and effective exercise of oversight functions, including investigations of corruption allegations, such as those involving the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF).”

“We also urge you to urgently use the opportunity of the ongoing public hearings and corruption probes to influence Nigeria’s anti-corruption agenda, including by immediately amending section 52 of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act on independent counsel for corruption.”

“Section 52 requires the Chief Justice of Nigeria to authorise an independent counsel to investigate any allegation of corruption against high level public officials, and to report his/her findings to the National Assembly or appropriate house of assembly.”

“The proposed amendment should include additional requirements beyond merely reporting to lawmakers, that would allow the independent counsel to use the findings of any investigation as a basis to pursue effective prosecution of corruption cases without any authorisation by the executive or the National Assembly.”

“SERAP notes that both the Senate and House of Representatives have over the years conducted several public hearings and corruption probes to expose pervasive problem of corruption in MDAs.”

“SERAP is concerned about the systemic and widespread corruption allegations in MDAs and among high-ranking public officials, and the negative impacts on socio-economic development, as well as access of Nigerians to public goods and services, including quality education, adequate healthcare, clean water and regular electricity supply.”

“We would be grateful if the requested information is provided to us within 7 days of the receipt and/or publication of the FoI requests. If we have not heard from you by then, the Registered Trustees of SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions under the Freedom of Information Act and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to compel you to comply with our requests.”

“The exercise of oversight functions and powers by the National Assembly to conduct public hearings and corruption probes in MDAs should be regarded as a public trust.”

“The National Assembly has a unique opportunity to enhance transparency and accountability, as well as the integrity of its oversight functions on corruption matters in particular, and other constitutional roles, in general, including by publishing widely the reports of all corruption-related public hearings since 1999.”

“There is legitimate public interest in the publication of the reports of these public hearings and probes. The public hearings and probes can only serve as effective mechanisms to prevent and combat corruption if their reports are widely published.”

“By Section 1 (1) of the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act 2011, SERAP is entitled as of right to request for or gain access to information, including information on reports of all public hearings and corruption probes by the National Assembly since 1999.”

“By Section 4 (a) of the FoI Act, when a person makes a request for information from a public official, institution or agency, the public official, institution or urgency to whom the application is directed is under a binding legal obligation to provide the applicant with the information requested for, except as otherwise provided by the Act, within 7 days after the application is received.”

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Troops Neutralise Bandits, Rescue Kidnap Infant In Doka Village In Katsina State

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In its efforts towards ridding the North-West zone of banditry and other criminality, troops of Operation Sahel Sanity have neutralized bandits, rescued kidnapped infant in Doka village in Katsina State.

This was contained in a statement signed by the Acting Director, Defence Media Operations, Brigadier General Benard Onyeuko, issued to pressmen on Friday.

The Statement:

In continuation of their aggressive clearance operation against criminal elements across the North West zone, on 24 September 2020, based on credible Information on bandits attack in Unguwar Doka village of Faskari LGA of Katsina State, gallant troops of Opeartion SAHEL SANITY responded swiftly and immediately mobilized to the general area where they successfully cleared the village of the marauders to the admiration of the locals. During the encounter, troops successfully neutralized 21 bandits while others escaped with gunshot wounds into the forest as evident by the trails of blood along the criminals’ escape route.

In the aftermath of the decisive encounter, the gallant troops successfully rescued 3 kidnapped victims including an 8 months old baby who have been in the custody of the criminals for more than 23 days. During the exploitation phase of the operation, the gallant troops recovered one AK 47 rifle, one AK 47 magazine and 3 Motorcycles from the fleeing bandits.

Regrettably, resulting from the encounter with the bandits, one gallant officer and 2 soldiers paid the supreme sacrifice while 2 other soldiers were wounded in action and are currently receiving medical treatment in a military medical facility and responding positively. The fearless troops have continued to pursue the bandits into the forest and dominating the general areas with aggressive fighting patrols to deny them any respite.

Consequently, troops of Operation SAHEL SANITY are commended for their resilience and commitment to duty. They are further urged not to rest on their oars until the Northwest zone is completely rid of all criminal elements. The good people of the North-West zone are once again assured of troops’ commitment to the safety of lives and properties within the zone. They are also encouraged to continue to avail troops with timely and credible information that will assist in the conduct of operations to rout the criminal elements.

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Nigeria Records 111 New COVID-19 Cases

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Nigeria on Wednesday recorded 111 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of cases confirmed to 57,724.

In a late-night tweet, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) noted that the new cases were reported from 12 states of the federation, including Lagos where 31 cases were recorded.

Other states with new cases include Gombe (31), Kaduna (18), FCT (15), Rivers (14), Imo (3), Kwara (3), Oyo (3), Bayelsa (2), Edo (1), and Osun (1).

The NCDC report shows that 48,985 recovered patients have been discharged while 1,102 deaths have been recorded so far.

Profile photo, opens profile page on Twitter in a new tabNCDC@NCDCgov
111 new cases of #COVID19Nigeria; Lagos-31
Gombe-18
Kaduna-18
FCT-15
Rivers-14
Imo-3
Kwara-3
Oyo-3
Bayelsa-2
Ogun-2
Edo-1
Osun-1
57,724 confirmed
48,985 discharged
1,102 deaths

Over N10 billion worth of palliatives to be distributed

Wednesday’s NCDC report comes only a few hours after the Federal Government announced that it has commenced the distribution of palliatives worth N10.9 billion to households and Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises.

President Muhammadu Buhari disclosed the new move on Tuesday while delivering a speech via video-message, on the first day of the 75th session of the UN General Assembly Debate.

According to him, the disbursement of the sum is part of efforts to reduce the suffering of Nigerians imposed by the COVID-19.

“In order to mitigate its impact on Nigerians, our administration has commenced the disbursement of the sum of N10.9 Billion to households and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises as palliatives,” he said.

Speaking further, the president restated Nigeria’s commitment to working with other member states to promote the well-being of citizens.

“I should also state that Nigeria is committed to working with the other Member States in the spirit of global cooperation and solidarity to promote human health and general well-being.

“Nigeria will continue to partner with the WHO and some countries to ensure accelerated development and manufacturing, as well as the uninhibited supply of safe and effective Coronavirus vaccines to all,” he said.

In addition, President Buhari noted that the government has established a N500 billion fiscal stimulus package and sustained delivery of humanitarian and social interventions to poor and vulnerable households, while our Central Bank has launched a N3.5 trillion-stimulus package to boost manufacturing and facilitate import substitution

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Army Eliminate Top Boko Haram Commanders, Others

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The Defence Headquarters has said that Troops of Operation Lafiya Dole have eliminated top commanders and destroyed several terrorist camps at the Lake Chad Basin in recent encounters in the northeast.

The Coordinator, Defence Media Operations, Maj.-Gen. John Enenche disclosed this on Thursday in a statement in Abuja.

He explained that In continuation of the aggressive clearance operation against terrorism and other sundry crimes in the North East, troops of Army Super Camp Malumfatori at the Lake Chad Basin conducted massive clearance operations.

According to Enenche, the successful operation led to the destruction of several identified terrorists’ camps and hideouts located at Tunbun Gini, Tunbun Nbororo, Tunbun Kayoma, Tunbun Kaza, Tunbun Fulani at the fringes of Lake Chad in Kukawa Local Government Area of Borno State.

“Several top BHT/ISWAP terrorists commanders were killed during the successful operation including Abu Usman, Alhaji Shettima, Modu Mainok, Bukar Gana, Abu Summayya, Amir Taam and Amir Kuraish among others”.

The Army General stresed that the Armed Forces of Nigeria are working together with other security agencies are highly committed to ending the insurgency and other security challenges in the country.

He said, “While the good people of the North East are once again assured of troop’s commitment to the safety of lives and property within the zone, they are also encouraged to continue to avail the troops with timely and credible information that will assist them in the conduct of their operations”.

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